Let the stretch run begin.
It's amazing that six weeks of the high school football season are in the rear-view mirror.
What a season it has been for the offense. Friday night's have seen the scoreboards in the area light up. This isn't like watching Ohio State run, get sacked, punt on Saturday.
Do you like defense? Liberty Center has recorded four shutouts to date while Hicksville has permitted just seven points combined in three Green Meadows Conference contests. There's no comparison to Michigan's defense during the days of Rich Rodriguez here.
What can we look forward to in the final month? Exciting battles for the GMC and Northwest Ohio Athletic League titles. Defiance and Napoleon in search of winning records. And of course, dreams of a post-season berth either coming to an end or becoming a reality.
• The area is loaded with teams that have 3-3 or 2-4 records. Which one or two of those squads has the best chance to run the table?
Kevin: While it has been done before, in looking at the remaining four weeks on many of these teams' schedules, running the table is going to be a tall order for any of them. Seeing as how most still have at least one enormous hurdle still standing in their paths, it is hard to imagine that happening this year. Maybe I'll be proven wrong, and I actually hope I am. This area needs a good "Rocky" story, don't you think? It shakes things up a bit, and it makes me smile inside.
Bruce: Me ... pick four games correct in a row ... for one team? Heck, can anyone with a 6-0 record win four in a row? Okay, if I had to pick somebody that will win four straight in the area that is 3-3 or 2-4 I would go with Edon, if for no other reason their schedule is easier facing nobody that has a winning record the rest of the way. Then again, I picked Edon to go down last week and the Bombers squeaked by 54-0.
• The playoffs are four weeks away. What area teams will be in action week 11?
Kevin: Depending on how they do against a couple of huge back-to-back obstacles in Patrick Henry and Liberty Center, I think Bryan has a very good shot in D-III. However, the D-V race will be dicey. LC is undefeated in the middle of the pack at number four in Region 18, so the Tigers should be okay even with a loss.
Meanwhile, Archbold hangs in there at number seven with a 5-1 mark while Hicksville is on the bubble at number nine with two losses. With four undefeated teams filling the top four slots, strength of schedule will make all the difference in the end..
Bruce: A season of uncertainty is just that when looking at the computer ratings. Liberty Center appears to be the most logical squad to mention, yet the Tigers face two unbeatens plus a 5-1 squad over the final four weeks. At this stage in the area it looks like win out - in other words control your own destiny - and seven six-county teams are in. Then again, many of those will face each other. In reality, what could happen are teams that lost match-ups like Edgerton-Edon and Archbold-Hicksville getting in while the winner of those games do not.
• Don't be so obvious. Give us one surprise team that has a shot at the post-season?
Kevin: While it will be no surprise should they end up in the playoffs this year, the fact that the 5-1 third-ranked Edgerton Bulldogs could return to the D-VI Region 22 playoff scene for the second year in a row with their new head coach, Ben Wilhelm, is certainly impressive. The real shocker is that this was a 2-8 program half a decade ago. What a turnaround. But the Bulldogs have Fairview, Hicksville and Tinora down the stretch - three teams which have been classic thorns in Edgerton's side. Inevitably, we'll see how it shakes out.
Bruce: Surprise team? Napoleon stands 15th in Region 10 and Patrick Henry 16th in Region 18. Both have legit shots at winning out which "could" mean a week 11 game. Then again, both could easily lose this week which would all but end any post-season hopes.
• What have you liked best about the area high school football season thus far?
Kevin: The unpredictability, hands down. And the fact that there has been some decent competition atop the NWOAL and GMC this year means we could definitely see some co-champions.
But I think the best part about the season is that - aside from a game here and there - the battles which should have been slugfests have been just that. Jerry Buti's 200th win in double overtime last week was cool, too.
Bruce: Hard work over the long haul paying off is great to see. Certainly Buti becoming the first DHS coach to win 150 at the school is quite a feat. It's also fun to witness good hard-working senior classes be rewarded after a few struggles along the way as underclassmen. Liberty Center and Hicksville are perfect examples with both at or already having exceeded last year's win total.
• The topic can't always be good, readers. Give us something you like the least about the first six weeks of the 2011 campaign?
Kevin: Liked the least, eh? I could tell you, but then I'd have to tell you. I'll just keep this one to myself. The suspense drives you crazy, doesn't it? It would make no sense anyway, except maybe to me. So how was that for brazen avoidance? Yep, I've been practicing …
Bruce: Way, way too many mismatches. Through six weeks there have been 22 games involving area teams decided by 40 or more points. In fact, every team in the area has had at least two games with a winning margin of 30 or more points. Defiance is the lone area squad to not have two or more games decided by 27 or more points. Heck, look at Edon. Who is even there in the fourth quarter? The Bombers' closest game thus far is 30 points. That's closest! Parity is certainly missing.